"Annabelle, it's been an awfully long time since you called me, I was starting to feel unloved." The golden furred lab sat in front of the head angel with his usual mischievous grin.
Indeed, she hated asking for his help. As much as she liked to keep up the illusion of control, there was always something he knew that she didn't, "I'm just going to make an educated guess that you know why you're here."
"Well if your family history is any indication, you want my help for the same reason as Belladonna. Charlie could potentially prove rather useful to either of you, but his moral indecision and past attempts to reclaim life, put him in my jurisdiction."
"Yes, and that's why I'm sending his friend Itchy to help you pass judgement."
"Always putting a sugar-coating on everything. We know how this works by now." He stood and slowly started to circle around her, "You each send one soul to argue your case, of course they'll just twist everything to fit their own viewpoint. It's my opinion that matters, not theirs. If you really wanted to 'help me 'pass judgment' you'd try something," He leaned in close to her, "a little less angelic."
She didn't reply, only stared at him threateningly.
He was unphased, "See now this is where your si-" He stopped himself, "sorry, cousin will always have the edge. She's willing to actually compete for victory. She's also just infinitely more fun-loving than you."
"Let's just find Itchy." She started to walk off.
He followed, with one last twist of the knife, "Oh what fun, it is to ride, on every last one of an archangel's nerves." he chuckled at her scowl.
They found Itchy asleep and gnawing on a bone. "Itchy," Annabelle called his name, with a bit of misdirected agitation.
"Huh, who, wha-" his head jerked up at the disruption, "Oh," he dropped the bone, "hey Annabelle, what's up?" he noticed the golden lab next to her, with a clear crystal hanging from his red collar, "Who's that?"
"This is Alastair." She told him, "I'm sending you to earth with him to check up on Charlie."
"Charlie? Why, is everything alright?"
"Don't worry, everything's fine. Alastair will explain on earth. Just stay with him and see what Charlie's up to."
"Uh, okay, when am I leaving?"
Alastair touched the crystal on his collar, "Immediately." A light flashed from the crystal, and when it faded Itchy saw that he was no longer in heaven, but rather San Francisco. Right outside the house that Charlie had moved into with Sasha and David more specifically. Alastair's crystal changed from clear to black, and an image suddenly appeared within a large circle before them. The image was of someone who looked similar to Annabelle, but with darker fur, more purple than pink, a spiked collar, and a black vest and wings. "Belladonna," Alastair said to her, "Annabelle has sent her representative. If you're ready to send yours then we can begin."
"Of course," she replied. To the left of the golden lab there was a spontaneous burst of flames and Carface suddenly appeared, "Feel free to suture his mouth shut if you need to, probably be doing me a favor anyway."
Itchy looked to the pit bull with contempt, "Carface! what's he doing here! What's going on anyway!"
Alastair touched the crystal again and Belladonna vanished, "Judgement, and he's here to represent Belladonna, just as you are here to represent Annabelle."
"Represent for what?"
"Yeah," Carface added, "I got a pretty vague explanation too. What exactly are we here for?"
"Normally all dogs are sent to heaven by default upon death, but there are exceptions, such as one who sells his soul for a magic collar. Charlie was sent to heaven once, but he was able to take back time that he didn't have. That in itself should've condemned him, but his selfless sacrifice earned him another chance. It's taken much longer than it should have to properly arrange everything, but this is his second chance." He paused to allow his words to sink in, "As things stand his alignment, if you will, is neutral, and it is my job to pass judgement and decide who gets to claim his soul. He could prove very useful to either side, and you two are here to speak on their behalf. Consider me a mediator in all this. An unbiased neutral party who will pass the final judgement." He started to walk towards the house.
Itchy pointed to Carface accusingly, "He's just gonna twist everything that happens though."
"Like you'll be any different." Carface huffed.
Alastair stopped and looked back at them, "Exactly, you'll both try to use everything that happens to your advantage, which makes your opinions rather worthless in the end. It's me that you need to persuade, not each other, and not yourselves. If nothing else just try not to make my job any harder with your bickering. I can exert whatever level of control I deem necessary over you by the way. You cannot be seen, heard, or interact with this world in any way without my approval." He walked through the door and they followed. Charlie was in a room on the right side of the house. He and Sasha were asleep in the warm sunlight that shone through the sliding glass door. She was on her side lying against him, with her head comfortably right next to his and cushioned by his paws. "How sweet, I hate to disturb such a sight, but I'll get over it." Alastair kicked Charlie in the ribs to wake him up.
He grunted as he stirred, "Ow, what was that?" Charlie opened his eyes and lifted his head to see the golden lab standing in front of him, "Who are you?"
Sasha woke with Charlie's sudden motion, "Charlie," She stretched out her legs a bit before opening her eyes to see the unknown dog, "Who's this?"
"I'm no-one you need to worry about." Alastair told her, "I'm only here for Charlie."
"Well if you have business with him then you have business with me too."
He shrugged, "Very well." He once again touched the crystal, which went half black and half white this time, and allowed both of them to see Itchy and Carface.
The pair looked between the old friend and foe that had suddenly appeared, "What are you two doing here?" They asked in unison.
"They're representing those two." Alastair pointed behind Charlie and Sasha to the sudden appearance of Annabelle and Belladonna, "Charlie you already know Annabelle, now meet her counterpart, Belladonna."
"Nice to finally meet you face to face Chucky." The demon whippet added.
Charlie looked to Belladonna quizzically, but shifted his attention to Annabelle for an explanation, "Counterpart?"
"Yes," Annabelle didn't particularly enjoy the company of her demonic kin, but she could handle it. Having both her and Alastair together though, that made her uneasy to say the least, "She heads 'The other side' just as I do Heaven." Both of the two walked around in front of Charlie and Sasha to stand with Alastair.
"She does? What about that Red guy?"
Belladonna raised a brow, "Who?"
Alastair refreshed her memory, "The one who took Gabriel's horn."
"Him? He was just a lackey who liked to make deals, like a soul for a collar. Does what he's told and doesn't ask many questions, nothing particularly interesting."
Somehow Charlie didn't like the idea of the one who took Gabriel's horn being described as if not even noteworthy, "So stealing the key to heaven is 'nothing particularly interesting'?"
Alastair shrugged, "Maybe if he could've really pulled it off, but such a low-level demon would've been destroyed from just touching an artifact so holy if not for me."
"Um...now you've lost me."
"In short none of what happened with Gabriel's horn would've been possible without my involvement. I set it up, I saw it through, I made no decisions for anyone, but I did make the results. You rejected Heaven and were destined for Hell, but earned a second chance in your last moments. A second chance, however, is not a free pass. Your past sins have not been erased, but you are granted an opportunity. This will be your second chance, everything between your death and now has been a precursor. I will be the one to pass final judgement, and that means it is entirely within my hands to decide which of these two gets to claim your soul." His characteristic grin appeared once again, "You should be proud that you've proven so interesting. It's very rare that I hear from dear Anny anymore." He looked tauntingly at Annabelle.
She only glared back. Belladonna couldn't help but join in on prodding the angel's nerves, "Aw, does she not treat you like I do?" She rubbed her head and the length of her body underneath his chin.
Annabelle growled, "You can delude yourself all you want, but something like that will not affect his decision."
Alastair curved his neck around Belladonna's, "Don't be so sure."
"You're supposed to be unbiased in this!" She snapped at him.
Belladonna scoffed, "You're one to talk. Why don't you get off your high and mighty pedestal for a minute before whining about being biased." They both leaned close to one another and growled.
Alastair broke things up, "Ladies, don't fight over me. Although this is a rather entertaining bit of sibling rivalry."
They both quickly turned towards him and together shouted, "We're not siblings!"
He just laughed a bit, "Sinners, saints, sisters, strangers, call yourselves whatever you want, it doesn't change the truth." He touched the clear crystal again and they both vanished suddenly. "Aren't they just so fun." He looked back to Charlie, "Well, you may or may not be seeing a lot more of me, or them, from here on out, and I may or may not be keeping an eye on you for quite some time, or I may or may not make my decision in only a few days, and I may or may not throw a few unexpected twists your way." He brought his muzzle just inches from Charlie, "You don't get to know. I would tell you not to worry too much about it, but it is only your eternity we're talking about." He also vanished, along with Itchy and Carface, as his words sunk in.